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NY Post
18 Nov 2023

NextImg:Stream It Or Skip It: ‘A Merry Scottish Christmas’ on Hallmark, A Mini ‘Party Of Five’ Reunion Starring Lacey Chabert and Scott Wolf As Siblings Once More

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A Merry Scottish Christmas

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Hallmark, you have truly outdone yourselves with A Merry Scottish Christmas. The film stars former Party of Five stars Lacey Chabert and Scott Wolf as they play on-screen siblings once more, this time as estranged adults who are brought back together by their mother’s invitation to spend Christmas with her in her home country, Scotland. But they soon find that the Glencrave Castle they’re staying in means more to their family than they ever could have imagined when their mom reveals that it’s actually their birthright. With some major life decisions to make, will they also have time to make up and even find their own respective happy endings along the way?

The Gist: Lindsay (Lacey Chabert) and Brad Morgan (Scott Wolf) are estranged siblings brought together by their mom, Jo’s (Fiona Bell), request to have them visit her in Scotland, at Glencrave Castle, in the area where she grew up. It turns out “in the area” was just a way to hide that the castle was the exact building where Jo grew up. She was a duchess who left her parents and younger brother Daniel at age 20, Daniel, for her American love to pursue a normal life and possible also a career in folk rock.

Jo hid the truth from her kids because she wanted them to have a regular life growing up in America, where they could have the freedom to pursue their own dreams… which they did! Lindsay is a doctor running her own clinic as a general practitioner in Los Angeles, while big brother Brad is a tax attorney based in San Fransisco. While the two were close in their youth (especially because their parents’ divorce forced Brad to step in as a caretaker since their father wasn’t always that reliable), their dedication to their own respective career paths and lives made it difficult for them to effectively communicate, eventually leaving them barely in the other’s lives at all.

Jo knows how hard it is to grow apart from a sibling, as she and Daniel never got to reconnect before he died. But it was in his will for Jo to bring herself and her family together for one last Christmas at Glencrave, which will hopefully also help them decide what to do with the Castle and the responsibility it comes with in the future.

Brad has arrived with his wife, Sarah (Kellie Blaise), who is an absolute champ that’s doing her darnedest to keep the peace between the Morgan siblings. While she wants them to be able to put their difference aside and get along, she and Brad are dealing with their own marital troubles stemming from their later in life desire to start a family and subsequent troubles to conceive.

Lindsay soon meets a potential romantic partner of her own in Glencrave property manager Mac Bell (James Robinson). Not only is he reliable, knowledgable, and easy to get along with, but he’s also accident prone, which makes him a pretty perfect match for a doctor. Also, his mother is a doctor too, who runs the local clinic and could really use some help. Sounds like some pretty solid reasons to stick around, to me.

But alas, both Lindsay and Brad are at a crossroads as they struggle to decide whether or not it’d be worth it to leave their lives and jobs in California behind to step into these titles and duties they know next to nothing about in a land they have no real history with. They’re clearly falling in love with Glencrave and the people, but is that just a love concocted by the irresistible power of holiday time magic?

Hard to say, but one thing’s for sure is that the local Scottish people are pretty darn great. Glencrave staples like self-proclaimed “baking butler” Graham (Gerry O’Brien) and the bagpipe playing part-time Glencrave tour guide and the rest of the time Highland dancer (seriously, what doesn’t this guy do), Hamish (Tom Doonan) help build out a community and ambiance that definitely feels worth moving halfway across the world for.

But it’s not all smooth sailing and wonderful whisky tasting montages. Indeed, all of that (and even some adorable Shetland ponies) may not be enough to help bridge the gap between Lindsay and Brad. Can they find a way to settle their issues and come to terms with their shared heritage and future in just a few days time?

A Merry Scottish Christmas
Photo: Hallmark

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: This movie has a surprising amount in common with The Princess Diaries. In both, people find out that their family member has been hiding the secret that they descend from royal lineage, giving them sudden status and a major choice to make whether or not they will dedicate themselves to taking over the family legacy.

Also, much like The Princess Diaries, A Merry Scottish Christmas has so much genuine natural warmth to it that radiates through every character no matter how seemingly small the role.

Performance Worth Watching: As mentioned above, everyone in this film was pretty darn delightful to watch. But it’s Lacey Chabert and Scott Wolf who stand out the most. Their years spent playing siblings on Fox teen drama series Party of Five made a difference, as two decades later they still feel like believable siblings. Their easy shared dynamic and genuine charm makes them an absolute treat to watch every time they’re onscreen together.

Memorable Dialogue: “I don’t even know if I’m cut out to be a father. I mean look at our role models. We are products of folk rock.”

A Holiday Tradition: There are several different traditions shared in A Merry Scottish Christmas, each one with its own fun.

There’s the annual Christmas whisky competition that was founded by the late Duke Daniel, himself. There’s the annual Christmas highland dance off at the pub. There’s the yearly winter solstice celebration that’s complete with Shetland ponies, a big bonfire, and a even visit from Santa. And, of course, there’s the big Glencrave Christmas ball, where everyone gets decked out in their finest tartan attire and dances the night away. It’d be impossible to pick just one, so our characters had to do ’em all (and I wish I could too)!

Talent: James Robinson, Lacey Chabert, Scott Wolf, Kellie Blaise
Photo: Hallmark/Martin Maguire

Does the Title Make Any Sense?: You bet! And you know what, it advertises exactly what it says. A Merry Scottish Christmas is a jolly good time for all.

Our Take: A Merry Scottish Christmas is bursting at the seams with heart. I forgot I was watching a Hallmark movie because it truly seemed to stand alone as its own thing. Nothing about it felt formulaic. Sure, you had a certain idea of how things would end up, but that’s just how Christmas movies go. This film still had so many moments full of life, personality, and charisma, it’s enough to keep you in the moment and feel like you’re watching something fresh pretty much the whole time.

I think two huge reasons for this are the cast and the location, both of which can be boiled down to a single word: charm. Everyone in this movie genuinely seems to be having a blast, so if you don’t fall in love with them, then you’ll at least likely swoon from all of the Scottish scenery, accents, and culture. Like why doesn’t EVERY Christmas movie have a Highland dance-off between kilted men? How can anyone stay stone-faced during that or hit holiday songs played on bagpipe? CHARMING!

Another thing is that this movie feels self aware. They know that it’s a whimsical Christmas movie and everyone’s rolling with it, while still having refreshing breaks from overdone tropes. I love how the characters in this movie openly communicate with one another. I love how the family and romantic dynamics feel pretty real, and how even when there are disagreements, you can still feel the underlying love and care that thee characters have for one another.

The progression of the plot makes sense and everything wraps up in a satisfying way. Even peripheral characters like Graham and Hamish are three-dimensional and entertaining. Best of all, the family moments and bond between Lindsay, Brad, and Jo feel honest, tender, and hilarious in the way that things often are for family during the holiday season in particular. In terms of a quality Christmas movie, you really couldn’t ask for more.

Our Call: STREAM IT! As Mac says in the film, “Scots are hot, what can I say?” He’s absolutely right! Scots are hot and so is A Merry Scottish Christmas.